Robert William Hoskins (26 October 1942 – 29 April 2014) was an English actor.[6] His work included lead roles in Pennies from Heaven (1978), The Long Good Friday (1980), Mona Lisa (1986), Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), Mermaids (1990), and Super Mario Bros. (1993), and supporting performances in Brazil (1985), Hook (1991), Nixon (1995), Enemy at the Gates (2001), Mrs. Henderson Presents (2005), A Christmas Carol (2009), Made in Dagenham (2010), and Snow White and the Huntsman (2012). He also directed two feature films.

Hoskins received the best actor award at the Cannes Film Festival, the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role and the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama for his role in Mona Lisa. He was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for the same role. In 2009, Hoskins won an International Emmy Award for Best Actor for his appearance on the BBC One drama The Street. In 2012, Hoskins retired from acting due to his battle with Parkinson's disease, and he died from pneumonia on 29 April 2014, at age 71.

Early life

Hoskins was born in Bury St Edmunds, West Suffolk, on 26 October 1942 to Robert Hoskins, a bookkeeper and lorry driver, and Elsie (née Hopkins) Hoskins, a cook and nursery school teacher.[7][8] His grandmother was a Romani. From two weeks old, he was brought up in Finsbury Park, London. He left school at the age of 15 with a single O-Level and worked as a porter, lorry driver, and window cleaner. He started on a 3-year accountancy course but dropped out.[9]


In 1968, Hoskins' acting career began at the Victoria Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent. He portrayed a servant named Peter in a production of Romeo and Juliet.[10] In 1969, he worked at the Unity Theatre in London, England. One evening, he was waiting in the Unity Theatre bar for his friend, the actor Roger Frost, to finish an audition. Whilst drinking at the bar, he was given a script and told, "You're next."[11] He got the part, with Frost ending up his understudy. Frost recalled, "Bob was a natural. He just got up on stage and was brilliant."

His first major television role was in On the Move (1975-6),[12] an educational series intended to tackle adult illiteracy, in which he portrayed Alf Hunt, a removal man who had problems reading and writing. According to eventual producer George Auckland, up to 17 million people watched the series.[13] Hoskins' breakthrough television role came in the original BBC version of Dennis Potter's innovative 6-part fantasy-drama Pennies from Heaven (1978) as adulterous sheet music salesman Arthur Parker. Later, he portrayed Iago in Jonathan Miller's BBC Television Shakespeare production of Othello.[14]

Hoskins' performances in British films, such as The Long Good Friday (1980) and Mona Lisa (1986), won him the wider approval of the critics and, in the case of the latter, a Cannes Award, Best Actor Golden Globe and BAFTA Awards, and an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. He also delivered comic turns in Terry Gilliam's Brazil (1985) and as Mario in Super Mario Bros. (1993). In 2007, Hoskins told The Guardian that he regretted starring in Super Mario Bros., stating that he was extremely unhappy with the film and greatly angered by his experiences making it, referring to it as the "worst thing I ever did".[8] In 1983, Hoskins' voice was used in an advert for Weetabix and during the late 1980s and early 1990s, he appeared in advertising for the recently privatized companies of British Gas and British Telecom (now BT Group).[15]

He had a small role as Pink Floyd's manager in The Wall. He was slated to be a last-minute replacement in The Untouchables if Robert De Niro had not decided to portray Al Capone. When De Niro took the part, director Brian De Palma mailed Hoskins a cheque for £20,000 with a "Thank You" note, which prompted him to call up De Palma and ask him if there were any more films he did not want him to be in.[16]

In 1988, Hoskins played private investigator Eddie Valiant in the Disney, Touchstone, and Amblin Entertainment live-action/animated family blockbuster, Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988). Hoskins was not the first choice for the role; Harrison Ford, Bill Murray, and Eddie Murphy[17] were all considered for the part, but film critics agreed that Hoskins was perfect for the role, the most prominent among them being Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert.[18] As Hoskins' character interacts and makes physical contact with animated characters in the film, Hoskins was required to take mime training courses in preparation, and after shooting ended, he suffered from hallucinations for months afterward.[19][7] Hoskins was nominated for a Golden Globe award for this performance and won a British Evening Standard award.

Some of Hoskins' other work include playing opposite Cher in Mermaids (1990), portraying Smee in Hook (1991) and in Neverland (2011), and playing Uncle Bart, the psychopathic and violent "owner" of Jet Li in Unleashed aka Danny The Dog. He returned to television in productions for the BBC, including Flickers, David Copperfield as Wilkins Micawber (1999), and The Wind in the Willows (2006). He portrayed Nikita Khrushchev as a political commissar in Enemy at the Gates (2001). Hoskins received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Mrs Henderson Presents, a film he also produced with Norma Heyman.[7] In 2007, Hoskins appeared in the music video for Jamie T's single "Sheila".[7]

Hoskins also directed two films, both of which he starred in; The Raggedy Rawney (1988) and Rainbow (1996). In 2009, he made a return to television in Jimmy McGovern's drama serial The Street, where he played a publican who stands up to a local gangster. For this role, he received his only Emmy when he won Best Actor at the 2010 International Emmys. In 2011, In Search of La Che featured a character named Wermit and every line of his dialogue was a quote of Bob Hoskins.[7]

On 8 August 2012, Hoskins announced his retirement from acting after being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2011.[7]

Personal life

Hoskins' father was a communist and brought up Hoskins to be an atheist.[7] In 1967, aged 25, Hoskins spent a short period of time volunteering in kibbutz Zikim in Israel,[26][27] and also herded camels in Syria.[7] In an interview, when asked what he owed his parents, he said, "Confidence. My mum used to say to me, 'If somebody doesn't like you, fuck 'em, they've got bad taste.'" When asked which living person he most despised, Hoskins named Tony Blair and claimed that "he's done even more damage than Thatcher". He made light of his similarities with film actor Danny DeVito, whom he joked would play him in a film about his life.[29]

With his first wife Jane Livesey, Hoskins had two children named Alex (born 1968) and Sarah (born 1972). With his second wife Linda Banwell, he had two more children named Rosa (born c. 1983) and Jack (born c. 1986).[30]

Illness and death

In August 2012, Hoskins retired from acting due to being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2011.

On 29 April 2014, he died of pneumonia at a hospital in London, England at age 71.[6][31] He is survived by his second wife Linda Banwell and his four children.[32]

After his death, Robert Zemeckis, the director of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, released a statement saying that Hoskins brought enjoyment to audiences worldwide.[33] Among the actors who paid tribute at his funeral were Stephen Fry, Samuel L. Jackson, and Helen Mirren, who said that "London will miss one of her best and most loving sons".[14][34]

On the second anniversary of his death, as a tribute to Hoskins, some Twitter users posted links to articles about his death. This led to some confusion, as others believed he had just died. There was then a flood of tributes to him on social media.[35]



1972Up the FrontRecruiting sergeant
1973The National HealthFoster
1975Royal FlashPolice Constable
InsertsBig Mac
1979Zulu DawnCSM Williams
1980The Long Good FridayHarold ShandEvening Standard British Film Award for Best Actor
Nominated – BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
1982Pink Floyd The WallBand manager
1983The Honorary ConsulColonel PerezNominated – BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role
1984LassiterInspector John Becker
The Cotton ClubOwney Madden
1985The Woman Who Married Clark GableGeorge
The Dunera BoysMorrie Mendellsohn
1986Sweet LibertyStanley Gould
Mona LisaGeorgeBAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
Cannes Film Festival: Best Actor (tied with Michel Blanc in Ménage)
Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actor
Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
London Film Critics Circle Award for Actor of the Year (tied with William Hurt in Kiss of the Spider Woman)
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actor
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
Valladolid International Film Festival: Best Actor
Nominated – Academy Award for Best Actor
1987A Prayer for the DyingFather Michael Da Costa
The Lonely Passion of Judith HearneJames MaddenEvening Standard British Film Award for Best Actor
1988Who Framed Roger RabbitEddie ValiantEvening Standard British Film Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Nominated – Saturn Award for Best Actor
The Raggedy RawneyDarkyAlso director
1990Heart ConditionJack Moony
MermaidsLou Landsky
1991The Favour, the Watch and the Very Big FishLouis Aubinard
ShatteredGus Klein
The Inner CircleLavrentiy Beria
1992Passed AwayJohnny Scanlan
Blue IceSam Garcia
1993Super Mario Bros.Mario Mario
The Big FreezeSidney
1995NixonJ. Edgar HooverNominated – Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
BaltoBorisVoice only
1996RainbowFrank BaileyAlso director
The Secret AgentVerloc
MichaelVartan Malt
1997Twenty Four SevenAlan DarcyEuropean Film Award for Best Actor
Spice WorldGinger Spice's disguise
1998Cousin BetteCesar Crevel
1999Parting ShotsGerd Layton
Captain JackJack Armistead
Felicia's JourneyHilditchGenie Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
A Room for Romeo BrassSteven Laws
The White River KidBrother Edgar
2000American VirginJoey
2001Enemy at the GatesNikita Khrushchev
Last OrdersRay "Raysie" JohnsonNational Board of Review Award for Best Acting by an Ensemble
Nominated – European Film Award for Best Actor (shared with ensemble cast)
2002Where Eskimos LiveSharkey
Maid in ManhattanLionel Bloch
2003The Sleeping DictionaryHenryDVD Exclusive Award for Best Supporting Actor in a DVD Premiere Movie
Den of LionsDarius Paskevic
2004Vanity FairSir Pitt Crawley
Beyond the SeaCharlie Maffia
Son of the MaskOdinNominated – Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actor[36]
Mrs Henderson PresentsVivian Van DammNational Board of Review Award for Best Acting by an Ensemble
Nominated – British Independent Film Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture
Nominated – St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor
StayDr. Leon Patterson
2006Paris, je t'aimeBob LeanderSegment: "Pigalle"
The Wind in the WillowsBadger
Garfield: A Tail of Two KittiesWinstonVoice only
HollywoodlandEddie Mannix
OutlawWalter Lewis
Ruby BlueJackOxford International Film Festival - Best Actor
Go Go TalesThe Baron
2008DoomsdayBill Nelson
2009A Christmas CarolMr. Fezziwig / Old Joe
2010Made in DagenhamAlbertNominated – British Independent Film Award for Best Supporting Actor
2012Outside BetPercy "Smudge" Smith
2012Snow White and the HuntsmanMuir


Play for TodayTaxi driverEpisode: "The Bankrupt"
1973Crown Court
New Scotland YardEddie Wharton
Softly, Softly: TaskforceParker
Play for TodayWoodbineEpisode: "Her Majesty's Pleasure"
1974Shoulder to ShoulderJack Dunn
Thick as ThievesDobbs
Play for TodayBlakeEpisode: "Schmoedipus"
1975On the MoveAlf
1976ThrillerSammy Draper
The CrezzDetective Sergeant Marble
1977Van der ValkJohnny Palmer
Rock Follies of '77Johnny Britten
1978Pennies from HeavenArthur ParkerNominated – BAFTA TV Award for Best Actor
1979Of Mycenae and MenMr. Taramasalatopoulos
1980FlickersArnie Cole
1983The Beggar's OperaBeggar
1985Mussolini and IBenito Mussolini
1985The Dunera BoysMorrie MendellsohnAustralian mini-series
1994The ChangelingDe Flores
World War II: When Lions RoaredWinston Churchill
1995–1999The Forgotten ToysTeddyVoice only
1996Tales from the Crypt
1998Saturday Night LiveHimself
1999David CopperfieldWilkins Micawber
2000Noriega: God's FavoriteManuel NoriegaNominated – Satellite Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film
Don QuixoteSancho Panza
2001The Lost WorldProfessor George Challenger
2003FrasierCoach Fuller
The Good Pope: Pope John XXIIIAngelo Roncalli / Pope John XXIII
2008The Englishman's BoyDamon Ira Chance
The Last Word Monologuesunnamed hitmanEpisode: "A Bit of Private Business"
2009The StreetPaddy GarganInternational Emmy Award for best actor